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In season two of Ideastream Public Media's "Inside the Bricks" podcast, host Justin Glanville talks to his neighbors about whether their Cleveland neighborhood can stay diverse or if it’s on a one-way journey toward becoming completely gentrified.

My Changing Neighborhood - Episode 1: The house with the birdbath

A photo shows a view of Downtown Cleveland and the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.
Justin Glanville
/
Ideastream Public Media
The Gordon Square or Detroit Shoreway neighborhood in Cleveland has seen housing prices triple in the last five years.

In the first season of Inside the Bricks, I focused on a neighborhood on the brink of a complete rebuild. The neighborhood was Woodhill Homes, on Cleveland's East Side.

As I was wrapping up that season, I started thinking about my own neighborhood, Gordon Square, on the other side of town. It, too, was going through some major changes. Not everything was being torn down and rebuilt, as at Woodhill Homes. But just walking or driving around, it seemed like every day I saw new “For Sale” signs in front of freshly flipped houses, going for five or six times what I'd paid for my house. A crane or backhoe rumbling to life on a newly fenced construction site.

I started to feel like I wanted to do in my neighborhood what I’d done in the first season: to take a step back and talk to real people, my own neighbors this time, about how they felt seeing the changes happening around them.

My husband Ted and I love this neighborhood as it exists now. We wanted to live in a neighborhood where not everyone makes the same amount of money as we do (some have lower incomes, some way higher), or are white like we are or hold the same political beliefs as we do. For us, all that difference feels more like living in the real world. And frankly, being “different” ourselves — i.e., two men raising a kid — we just feel more comfortable in a place where all kinds of people are welcome.

In my experience, there aren’t many places in the world that feel that way. But it also feels like the welcoming atmosphere might not last much longer, if things continue the way they’re going. Is there any way to preserve the feeling of openness?

And, to take a step back, do my neighbors feel the same way I do, that this neighborhood is at an idyllic moment in its history? Maybe people from different backgrounds feel the neighborhood is going in the wrong direction. Or, conversely, that it still has to get even fancier or more expensive before it’ll be really great.

That’s some of what I want to explore in this series. And I hope, even if you live in a neighborhood completely unlike mine, the stories you’ll hear will make you think in new ways about where you live. And maybe even inspire you, in this time of social isolation that started even before the COVID-19 pandemic, to get to know your neighbors better, too.

We’ll be doing it by looking at a different house, building or spot in the neighborhood each episode. We’ll look behind the façade to the people who built it, live in it, use it – and have real conversations about why neighborhoods change and how that feels.

Welcome to "Inside the Bricks: My Changing Neighborhood. Episode 1: The house with the birdbath." Otherwise known as my house.

Justin Glanville tells stories of Northeast Ohio’s people and also helps them tell their own stories through Ideastream Public Media’s the “Sound of Us” initiative.